Friday, May 20, 2016

Apartment Tour

At the end of the summer, I will have lived in my home for five years. I truly love living in this one bedroom one bathroom apartment with a balcony. About six weeks after I moved in, I showed you around and since I purchased several items for my home over the past month, I thought it was about time for an update.

Welcome to my home...

This mat is from Target. I love the wrought iron design. Of course, if it read Benvenuto, then it would be perfect!

Won't you come in? This is my living room. The front door is to the right. 

The sofa is from Value City Furniture. My grandmother and I split the cost. You will see that so much of my furniture is from the Avington Collection in Dark Tobacco at Target. From this particular collection, I have chosen my coffee table and end tables. The tan rug is also from Target. My warm-toned sofa pillows are carefully curated. In addition, I adore my gallery wall of Italian street art above the sofa. On the end table closest to the door, I have a white jar candle (as in white wax in a clear jar) from HomeGoods. I adore its almond and bay vanilla scent.

I love my balcony. My sliding glass door and windows face northeast so for about 2 1/2 hours early each morning, I have a little direct sunlight.

My living room is my favorite room. I spend the quiet time I need to recharge on my sofa, next to my newly styled coffee table.

I have three stacks of three books, each is topped with a small item.

I bought this 14" x 18" espresso wood tray from West Elm around my birthday. I styled it with a stack of three books all about Italy and the covers in warm colors, a Venetian mask, a pink Murano glass vase, and a small clear glass vase with a few sprigs of faux dark pink azaleas (my favorite flower). I used the basic formula for styling my coffee table: a stack of books, a horizontal element (tray), a vertical element (vase), an odd-shaped item to bridge the previous two things, and/or a natural element (flowers). (I would like to add a little pink trinket tray or small stack of four white coasters. Like maybe these...)

I have always wanted a carved wooden screen and (with some cash from my parents) I finally purchased this beautiful and affordable one from Wayfair for my birthday. It also covers up three outlets, a switch and a large vent. The plant from my grandmother in a pot from Walmart helps hide a surge protector and some cable/internet boxes.

My college diploma hangs over a black accent table from HomeGoods. (An accent chair next to the table would complete the wall and room.) The living room is open to the dining room. And then the kitchen is open to the dining room.

This open layout enables me to have an office area in between my living and dining room furniture. This is a view from the front door.

This is my office area. Again, my bookcase, desk and printer stand with a file drawer are all from the Avington Collection. My desk was a gift from my parents for grad school. The bookcase was a Christmas gift from my parents as well. My wooden dining chair was from a Pier 1 when that location was going out of business. The lamp, its shade, planner, and vase are all from Target. The Kate Spade white candleholder with black polka dots on the lowest bookshelf was a gift from Kate of Une Vie Chic.

I have a stack of style books topping my bookcase. The top two are by Nina Garcia, whose style advice I adore. I haven't read the middle book yet which is Elements of Style by Erin Gates. All the spines are monochromatic and topped with a white jar candle in Blood Orange by Chesapeake Bay Candle from Target.

This is a detail of my top shelf. I have the Madame Chic books by Jennifer L. Scott (which are to be released in a boxed set) topped by a little Eiffel Tower. The white owl acts as a book end for a row of books having to do with all things French. My books are arranged by subject.

My printer stand has a shelf and that is where I keep my small collection of seven DVDs and two CDs.

I stash chocolate in most rooms. I suppose I can't be far from it! I keep my favorite, the dark chocolate Lindor ball truffle by Lindt in a coffee cup that I've had forever on my desktop, to the right, near the other pink things. The tall stems are gladiolas and these are white, but include touches of pale pink and subtle hints of yellowish green. Gladiolas of all colors remind me of my paternal grandmother who grew them. I also have a to do list pad with a pink cover.

The container holding my black ballpoint pens and a pair of black-handled scissors is actually an empty candleholder. I like the frosted print. This is on my desk, to the left, near my lamp and planner. The cord goes to my laptop, which is in the middle of my desk.

This is my dining room as seen from my kitchen. My dining set was a major score from Goodwill. It is smaller than standard size though.

I ordered a cheap red runner that can easily be laundered from Amazon. The centerpiece is a bowl from HomeGoods. I love the painted Italian scene, post office stamp and handwriting, and touch of red in the field of poppies.

The two-shelf bookcase acts as my cost-effective bar. I may want a bar cart in my next home though. I store my collection of glasses on the shelves. Some of my glassware has a red spiral and those would be from Pier 1. The top of the bookcase bar is styled with two trays and a cut clear glass decanter with a top from Amazon in between. 

On the espresso tray that I've had for awhile, I keep two stacks of red and white paper cocktail napkins, margarita salt, a silver and clear glass chevron candleholder from Target filled with red and white spiral paper straws, liquor and mix-ins. I have San Pellegrino sparkling water, Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail, Jameson (Irish) whiskey, Grey Goose (French) vodka, Aperol (which is an Italian orange-flavored and colored bitter liqueur that is an ingredient of Spritz, a famous aperitivo in Italy). Grand Marnier (for margaritas), Jose Cuervo gold tequila (for margaritas), Torani blood orange syrup (for margaritas), and Bacardi Oakheart rum (normally I do not like spiced liquor or wine, but this is pretty smooth and I like the oaky taste). The next item I want for my bar is limoncello and at least a couple stemmed cordial glasses for it. I was thinking of picking up a bottle from my favorite wine shop in Annapolis and maybe these glasses from the Crate & Barrel store also in Annapolis. My mom is an antique dealer and she probably has something...

On the silver tray from West Elm (in Philadelphia!), I have a silver recipe shaker and ice bucket with a lid that I have had a long time. In front of those two, I have an OXO double jigger from Target, a handheld juicer from Amazon (for margaritas) and a stack of four white marble coasters from Sur La Table.

I have a small wine cabinet. Several bottles of wine and champagne are stored at the bottom. I have red and white wine glasses hanging in the middle. The little drawer holds a lot of wine accessories such as corkscrews and a foil cutter. On the top, I have most of my collection of corks in three clear glass cyclinders. The smallest is one of my regular drinking glasses, cheap ones from Target. I also have a black iron wine bottle holder. The top space is great for my regular magnum (double) bottle of Bolla Chianti.

My kitchen is next.

I have red accents in this room such as my toaster, blender, dish rack and tray underneath, and the striped towel. They are all from Target. The bottle of balsamic vinegar was a birthday gift this year. I have a few cleaning tools in an old candleholder over on the sink.

I tend to bake a dozen muffins every week or two and keep them in the freezer. After breakfast every morning, I take one out of a freezer bag and put it in a sandwich bag in the footed black wire bowl at the corner of my counter for the next morning. This container also sometimes holds tomatoes, good bread, and possibly other treats or snacks. I love to use it for slices of bread while entertaining. Also on the counter, the owl was a gift from my friend B and Bolla Chianti is my signature wine.

The red Circulon tea kettle is new from Amazon. The printed flour sack towel which is great for drying wine glasses is from Target. (Sadly it is no longer available, but I will wait for another print with a pop of red.)

I really need to custom frame that wall poster in order to protect it. It advertises my first trip to Italy, when I fell in love with the country. The trash can on the left is for garbage and the one on the right is designated for recycling.

The red floor mat is also new and, again, from Target. There are red utensils in that black iron crock on the counter.

This white valance with red bows and trim was given to me by favorite neighbors before they moved away. It was easily thrown up there on a tension rod. On the windowsill, my annual basil plant from Lowe's is in an Ikea pot. I'm happy that the plant is doing so well with a tall holly bush and a brick wall outside blocking natural light.

This is my small collection of cookbooks that I keep on top of the fridge. I have had these bookends for awhile. The French one on the left was given to me by Kate of Une Vie Chic. The two smaller ones with recipes of pasta and desserts on the right were a gift from my godson J. I think that Big Night In was recommended to me by my friend J.

Behind the books, I keep a head of garlic in that wire basket under the short kitchen cabinet, to the right which is closer to the counter.

If you watch apartment tours on YouTube, then you often see the inside of the refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and bedroom drawers. I don't have very much in my freezer at the moment! We were so slow at work until May that it was like I was continuing to collect meager winter commission throughout the spring. If I buy meat, a more expensive grocery item, then I usually cook it within a day, so it sees the inside of the fridge, not the freezer. However, I will buy a family pack of pork chops and divide them into freezer bags. My parents may give me frozen meat as well. Not pictured, in the door, I have a couple portions left in a bag of crinkle-cut french fries. On the wire shelf, I have an ice tray, a carton of Edy's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream (which was the kind on sale at the grocery store last time), a box of chocolate croissants from Williams-Sonoma (which is an occasional treat. I actually had one for breakfast this morning.), and a couple of freezer bags of cranberry-orange muffins made from the Pillsbury box mix. (Five fit in a quart freezer bag.) In addition, I have a ice pack from Godiva and a small turkey that I was given at Thanksgiving. (I looked up how long it lasts and it is advised that it will be quality for a year.) 

This is the door of my refrigerator. I have a stick of unsalted and another of salted butter in front of an unopened box of unsalted butter. On one shelf, I store Grey Poupon mustard (for my Italian pork chops), Heinz ketchup, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (which I do not eat, preferring a homemade balsamic vinaigrette for salad, but my godson loves it and it's nice to have an option for company), French's mustard, Hershey's chocolate syrup, and the bottle of water I'm currently drinking. (I like to keep whipped cream and salsa here too.) On a smaller shelf, I store a jar of hamburger dill pickle slices and another one of sweet gherkins. I have more cranberry juice cocktail and sparkling water for bar drinks too. Both regular and reduced sodium soy sauce sit next to Worcestershire sauce. For pasta, I have an opened jar of Classico Marinara with Plum Tomatoes & Olive Oil (which is my favorite), Barilla pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes.

On the top shelf of the main space, I was given a small bottle of champagne and I have a last bottle of Harp beer from a six pack I bought like two months ago. On the second shelf, I have a carton of eight white large eggs, a small plastic container of leftover penne (which I ate for lunch topped with the tomato sauce and chicken pieces), and another plastic container of leftover lima beans (1/3 of which will serve as a side for dinner tonight). The deli drawer contains a block of sharp cheddar and a wedge of parmesan, a bag of shredded sharp cheddar and a little Target shopping bag that I could place a portion of cheddar in a snack bag in and then knot the bag as a reminder to exercise portion control and not eat it so quickly. (I also love to have prosciutto here!) On the bottom shelf, I have a bag of Perdue Short Cuts (which is pieces of roasted chicken breast, given to me by my parents, that I use to top pasta but you could add to salad too), a freezer bag full of now-thawed pork chops (for Italian pork chops tonight!) on the one dinner plate I bought for college, and a clear glass pitcher from HomeGoods full of sweetened decaffeinated Lipton black tea. (I make two pitchers at a time.) I have red bell peppers, a zucchini, a cucumber, and a bag of Dole salad in the left drawer (so pasta specialty and salad for a few days). I store bottles of water inside the right drawer. I simply do not eat a lot of fruit yet. 

This is the right side of my large upper kitchen cabinet. On the upper two shelves, I have my pantry items jam-packed in these expensive Cabinet Binz with convenient handles that I collected over time from Bed Bath and Beyond. The six are organized by like item. I try to keep a lot of pasta on hand since it's a cheap meal. I prefer the Barilla brand over a store brand. I stack white dinnerware on the lower shelf. My service for four is Adorne by Gibson. It features a raised line of dots. White coordinates with everything, including more white! I also have two scallopped dishes from Pier 1, two mugs from Crate & Barrel, and four latte bowls from Anthropologie on this side.

The pantry items continue at the top, more (McCormick) spices are on the left though. On the middle shelf, I have four glass apothecary jars from Crate & Barrel holding powdered sugar, all-purpose flour, sugar, and decaffeinated tea bags. I also keep my espresso, 3-cup moka pot, and vitamins near the center of that shelf. I have many glasses, stacked cups and saucers, and my two novelty espresso cups and saucers (that I use every morning) on the lower shelf. Even though I am poor, there is still an abundance of food inside my kitchen cabinets.

My novelty espresso cups are travel souvenirs from Boston and Philadelphia.

This is my corner large upper kitchen cabinet. I keep mason jars, a small olive oil jar, a travel coffee mug, sundae glasses from Pier 1, my red lasagna dish, paper napkins, cupcake liners, toothpicks, white rectangular serving plates and some plastic silverware on the top shelf. On the second shelf, I have a huge white and red striped bowl from Crate & Barrel holding a clear glass bowl from JCPenney and my dark pink plastic bowl (perfect for a bag of microwave popcorn) from Amazon on the left. On the other side, I have white and red mixing bowls from Target. You can see a pyramid of small ramekins from Crate & Barrel lining the back which are usually obscured by a clear glass pitcher, although I do have one in the right back corner. I also keep my little red milk frother from Sur La Table (for cappuccinos) in the back. On the lower shelf, I keep small paper plates on top of a ceramic dinner plate or two. I store plastic snack, sandwich, and quart freezer bags along with kitchen trash bags next to plastic containers with red tops. I have a measuring cup and some red plastic cups towards the right. Also, I have a shallow plastic container with its lid underneath corralling little things like metal bag clips, plastic measuring spoons and cups, metal cookie cutters, and plastic pastry bag tips inside a little plastic container.

In the hallway, I have a linen closet. I think of it as my entertaining closet though. I have vases, my white pitcher from HomeGoods, a gravy boat and saucer from Crate & Barrel, my bin designated for snacks while entertaining, (tall) pantry items, kitchen utensils I don't use often in a French Kitchen marble crock from Crate & Barrel, candle holders and tea lights, placemats, cloth napkins, napkins rings, a tablecloth, chargers, a new white tea pot from Amazon, antique tea cups and saucers from my mom, more espresso cups and tea cups and saucers, my white platinum-rimmed dinnerware from Pier 1, a trivet, a madeleine pan, bundt pans, a rolling pin, two of my cutting boards, appetizer plates, a cake plate, two new melamine plates from HomeGoods, two plastic cups and much more! January happened to this closet. With the new year came a new start and I organized it. For this project, I purchased short gray bins by Threshold from Target and red Rubbermaid bins from Amazon, one (or possibly two) at a time.

Also off the hallway, I have a huge walk-in closet. This closet extends behind the linen closet too. There is a lot in there. I store all my Christmas decor in this closet. I like large clear Rubbermaid totes with white lids. I go in there most frequently for my apron (daily) and vacuum (every Tuesday and Thursday). 

My friend F made me this cloth wall hanging that is opposite the two closets. She even included "creepy Italian trees" (which is a quote from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.) I use a lot of the things she has made me.

My bathroom door is on this wall. 

I have a small window in the shower/bathtub area, so I love a white shower curtain to maximize the most natural light during the day. This one with the black scroll pattern is from Target. I just bought a new shower curtain liner from HomeGoods. The small white rug is from JCPenney.

I have a gray cotton robe from Target under the silky robe from Macy's. It is black with red and pink flowers all over. On the towel rack, I have two white JCPenney bath and hand towels along with a red hand towel for a pop of color. I think I may replace these old towels by my five-year home anniversary with the newer version at JCPenney (or when I move, whatever comes first). Again, I will opt for white. I used to work in the Home Department at this store so I am loyal to the brand.

I have a lot of storage behind the three mirrored doors of the medicine cabinet and inside the vanity. I keep a lot in those places.

On my sink, from left to right, I have a bar of Dove soap on a soap dish, a new mouthwash decanter from Gabe's (which happens to be empty since I'm out of mouthwash), a pump of hand soap, a toothbrush holder with my pink toothbrush, a cut glass vase with a new white faux rose (an upgrade from my last one), a tall ribbed glass canister with a silver screw-top lid full of cotton pads, a shorter canister with floss picks, and a clear glass vase of a small set of Real Techniques makeup brushes.

On the floor between the vanity and the toilet and behind a wastebasket, I have a small black wire basket from HomeGoods stocked with an extra roll of toilet paper, a bathtub drain plug, air freshener, a large bottle of body lotion. 

The last room is my bedroom. This is a view from the bedroom door. The framed poster above my bed depicts a couple in Venice kissing under a red umbrella. I have two nightstands from the Avington Collection on either side of my queen-sized metal bed, a Christmas gift from my parents. The gray and white duvet and shams are from Z Gallerie. The white comforter inside the duvet from Garnet Hill and white sheet set with pillowcases from Sears were also gifts from my parents. 

I have a quatrefoil mirror over a jewelry armoire with carved doors from JCPenney. The pair of red thermal-lined window panels are from Walmart. The gray decorative pillow has a large red felt rose. Instead of a bedskirt, I thought I would cover the boxspring with a queen fitted sheet. Hopefully, Target still carries this red one because mine has holes in it.

I have two separate closets on one wall of my bedroom.

A large quatrefoil mirror hangs over a chest from the Avington Collection. This piece of furniture is topped by black framed photos.

I have a bottle of my signature perfume, Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, next to an antique clear cut glass dish on my jewelry armoire. It could possibly hold jewelry temporarily if I am too tired to put it away properly.

On the right nightstand, I have a double-gourd lamp, a Dolce & Gabbana ad (of my Italian alter ego!) in a black frame from Gabe's leaning against the wall, and a stack of three French books that have pops of red topped with a glass cup with a fleur-de-lis pattern from HomeGoods filled with faux red roses. The drawers are mostly empty, just waiting for a tall dark handsome man to move his stuff in!

On my nightstand, I have a photo of Italy with some red in it in a black and silver frame, a stack of books I am reading, a Kindle in a cover, an alarm clock and a lamp. The book is all in good taste by Kate Spade New York.

This is my left closet, which I use for clothes. On the shelf, to the left, I have a Threshold gray bin holding two small fans (which were unloaded to me by my friend B and my parents). I have a stack of cardigans on the right. (As it is late May, I will need to hand wash my cashmere soon and then acquire the proper cloth bin. Let me know if you have a storage solution in a comment.) I selected very similar (slim) black hangers for a uniform look. I have a short ironing board hanging in front of blazers, trench coats, special occasion clothing, and some out-of-season items. My capsule wardrobe and some extras hang on the right half, ordered by color. I have three pairs of pants all the way to the right. I fold my blue jeans over a hanger and use the bottom rod (as it's a double hanger). Skirts for the season are a couple of places based on how long they are. Just below the knee options are with dresses. I have that black and white quatrefoil print round container with lid from HomeGoods holding a lot of laundry essentials. My laundry bag on the left is also from HomeGoods.

My right closet is for accessories and travel items. Limited extra bed linens are stored here as well. I have scarves hanging on the left and totes on the right. 

I own 19 pairs of shoes (including boots and flip flops) and one on its way! (Yet another pair of black leather ballet flats! I ordered them on May 15th, the last day my birthday discount was valid.) I also want a pair of nude pumps. (Maybe Michelle from Naturalizer? Come on! They have my name on them!) Counting the new pair yet to arrive, six of the twenty are Nine West. With four pairs of shoes on top of the organizer plus my pair of sneakers and a pair of bowling shoes on the right squeezed between the luggage and wall, I want another one of these shoe organizers from Target to stack on top of my first. 

I have a full-length mirror from Bed Bath and Beyond on the back of the bedroom door.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! 


  1. What a lovely apartment you have, everything you need with lovely touches. And so organized too! You may be poor, as you said, but you've created a lovely home for yourself.

    1. Thank you so much!

      Being on a budget doesn't mean you can't afford anything, it just means you actively and patiently direct funds towards the items you really want. Life is what you make it. I need my oasis to be a place of beauty.

  2. Thank you, Michelle, for the tour of your lovely home! You have motivated me to simplify my living space some more. Love your blog!!!

    1. You're welcome! I'm happy you enjoyed it. And that my home has inspired you! I actually simplified my space today by recycling 28 cardboard boxes and reusing a shoebox. Thank you for the compliment and for reading.

  3. How generous of you to allow us into your home, it is just lovely! Thank-you!!!

  4. I've been looking forward to your apartment tour! Thank you so much for sharing! I love those dark chocolate Lindt truffles & that you keep chocolate in almost every room :) My favorite color is red, so I adore all the touches of red you have. Those Cabinet Binz are handy, I have a few in my pantry as well. As far as getting shoes with your name on them, I'm totally guilty of that (I have a not-so-common name so I had to jump on the sandals I saw at DSW and they turned out to be super comfortable). You have a lovely home, I hope to get mine as tidy as yours is one day!

    1. Thank you! :) I ended up buying that second shoe organizer and stacked it. I love that my shoes are even more neat now! I haven't tried those Michelle shoes yet. I hope that they work out! For my birthday last year, I tried on a pair of nice nude pumps at Nordstrom, but their color didn't look flattering with my pale skin. Also, I'm so happy to read I'm inspiring someone!